Softballs We'd Like to See Romney Toss Obama
Barring any real gaffes, the enduring outcome from the first Presidential debate tonight will most likely be determined by general impressions among voters more than anything else.
Misplacing the old Soviet Union, sweating uncontrollably, or having a genuine brain-freeze (brought on perhaps by the absence of a cuddly teleprompter) could tilt the scales of course. But today's Wi-Fi-cloud voters are arguably less debate sensitive than the black and white 6 p.m. news-generation that watched Kennedy and Nixon.
The viewers' choice of whom they see as the winner will be the one they feel is better qualified to lead the country, measured against the staggering economic problems they see all around them.
Even so, there are five trivial softballs we'd like to see Gov. Romney toss at the President.
For a hardworking president, these five questions should be "gimmies." To not know the answers wouldn't necessarily disqualify the President. But they would certainly be tell-tales as to how much effort he's putting into the job. We can be fairly certain that the better of his Democratic predecessors would know the answers cold. Think: Harry Truman.
Question 1. What is the standard issue training rifle for Army and Marines: The new M-18, the M-16, or the M-4?
2. How many Battle Force ships does the U.S. Navy have?
3. How many active divisions are there in the U.S. Army?
4. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is an amendment to what previous law? (You would actually have to have read Obamacare to know this--a common oversight among those responsible for it.)
5. Who is the current acting ambassador to Libya?
Our stage-worthy President, of course, would refuse to rise to the bait, even as he would well understand that he ought to know the answers to these easy and unremarkable questions. Most likely, as he pauses to formulate a meandering escape, using rhetorical stalls such as "Look," or "You know...", or perhaps even reprise his "silly season" dismissal line, a sympathetic member of the audience would blurt out the answers for him:
"The M-18 rifle; 21 Army Divisions, 350 capital ships, The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, and Ambassador Gene Cretz."
The President would smile broadly, extend a hand toward the audience member, and say something about surrounding himself with good people. The audience would laugh admiringly, and moderator Jim Lehrer would quickly try to move on.
It would then please us to see Gov. Romney interrupt the proceedings one more time.
He would introduce the "friendly" member of the audience as one of his supporters. And then he would tell the President that the standard rifle is the M-16, there is no M-18 rifle today. There are only 12 Army divisions, not 21. The Navy is down to 287 capital ships, not 350. Obamacare is an amendment to the Public Health Service Act of 1944. And just to tie things off in Libya, Gene Cretz, a former Ambassador to Libya, is now ambassador to Ghana.
There is no acting ambassador in Libya. The office is vacant.